Nicholas Carone is best known for his association with the New York School of Abstract Expressionists who came to prominence in the 1950s. He was born to Italian immigrants in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1917, the eldest of seven children. He was raised in Hoboken, New Jersey and began attending art school on the nights and weekends at age eleven at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in Manhattan. After high school, he studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design and with Hans Hofmann before serving in World War II. In 1947 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome and spent three years in Italy on the G.I. Bill starting in 1948. In 1949, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. In Rome, living on Via Margutta, he met Alberto Burri, Conrad Marc-Relli and the surrealist Matta, all of whom he would form important, lifelong friendships with. In 1951 he returned to New York City, exhibiting his paintings in the now famed “Ninth Street Show”. He became the founding director of Eleanor Ward’s seminal Stable Gallery and had several important one-man exhibitions of his paintings there, beginning in 1954. As the gallery curator, he gave shows to friends and painters he admired such as Guston, de Kooning, Pollock, and Motherwell.
In the early 1950s, he moved to the Springs at the far end of Long Island. With the help of close friend Jackson Pollock, he found a house near the other artists. He maintained a studio and apartment in Manhattan and exhibited at the Stable and then at Staempfli gallery, throughout the next decade. In the 1960s he was a founding faculty member of the New York Studio School, where he taught for over 20 years, also teaching at Columbia and Cornell. Continually returning to Italy Carone bought a farmhouse in Umbria in the 1970s and during the 1980s he founded an art school The International School in the area.
Besides being known as a New York Abstract Expressionist using the freewheeling gesture of action paintings and loose, painterly style, his work is imbued with a sensibility honed by studying Italian antiquities and the Renaissance masters. Beginning in the early 1960s Carone reintroduced figuration into his work, mining the human form as a source of inspiration. The majority of his body of work blurs the lines between figuration and abstraction conjuring a sense of mysticism and symbolism evocative from a friend and fellow Hamptons resident John Graham.
In the early 2000s the artist began making stark, black and white abstractions that again obscure the boundary between figuration and abstraction. Wrought in thin skeins of loosely flowing white paint, these late works have an immediacy and sense of mastery culminating in over 50 years of painting.